Clara Bray~Elf Child, 1913 Alice M. Curtis/©Fredrik D. Bodin
People visiting the gallery fall in love with the ethereal charm of this photograph. It has universal appeal, and LIFE Magazine published the image in a special Children’s Issue in 1990. Back in 1913, a story with this picture ran on the front page of the Gloucester Daily Times. The headline read: She Proved Herself a Dainty Performer in a Pretty Play. The story went on to say that Little Miss Clara Bray was the leading character in The Elf Child Pageant, an event held on the Addison Gilbert Hospital grounds to benefit the District Nurse Fund. Six-year-old Clara, along with other Riverdale children, performed for an audience of 900, including Mr. and Mrs. John Hayes Hammond, their guests, acclaimed playwright Charles Rann Kennedy and his wife Wyanne Matthison, who was a leading actress on stage and in silent films. The costumes were designed by Mrs. Palmer of Rocky Neck. Clara later married Delbert Andrews, foreman at the Rocky Neck Marine Railways, and raised their family in Gloucester. In 1954 at age 48, Clara modeled for Cover Girl Makeup, and, as an accomplished pianist, performed at the Riverdale Grange and Trinity Church. I’ve met five of Clara’s children: Arlene, Caroline, Marilyn, Geraldine, and Bonnie, all of whom cherish this photograph. Reverend Bonnie Goodwin, pastor of the Christian Union Church in Truro, MA, is a special friend to myself and the gallery. Bonnie told me last night that her mother always had a distinctive glint in her eyes, and that sparkle never left, even in times of hardship. Clara, the Elf Child, was buried in 1979 at Beechbrook Cemetery, in Gloucester. Remember your Mother’s Day.
Printed archivally from the original 5×7 inch glass negative in my darkroom. Image #A8857-437